Quotes for Entrepreneurs – July 2008

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Continuing my twitter experiment from April, May, and June more quotes about the challenges of entrepreneurship.

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Here are my choices for July:

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“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”
Gary Snyder

I thought this was more poetic than “find a niche and fill it.”

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“Strategy is a hypothesis. Metrics are the data for testing the hypothesis. It is a continuous feedback process.”
Glen B. Alleman

This is a condensed version of a set of bullets from a 2003 presentation “Using Balanced Scorecard to Build a Project Focused IT organization” he gave at an IQPC conference. The net effect is to get IT to take a more entrepreneurial approach to serving end users. It’s no wonder his blog is called “Herding Cats.”

  • Strategy is a hypothesis. Metrics are the data for testing the hypothesis.
  • Strategy is making a hypothesis about a desired outcome, constructing the measures to test the hypothesis, deploying the experiment to test the hypothesis, then making adjustments based on the metrics.
  • The concept of strategy as a hypothesis and the experiments to test the hypothesis may be new to many. But this approach puts strategy in a different light.
  • Strategy is not something you do then go off to execute the plan. It is a continuous feedback process. Always testing the strategy with metrics derived from projects.”

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“The true object of all human life is play. Life is a task garden, heaven is a playground.”
G. K. Chesterton

Truly creative problem solving, the kind that fuels an entrepreneur’s “creative destruction” is playful.

“The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one’s life and discover one’s usefulness.”
John Cheever

I find that writing down my thoughts and experiences have allowed me to get a better sense of perspective on my life and various business activities. I actually think I do my best story telling at a whiteboard, at least for the first few drafts, but presentations ultimately have to become articles and essays to have broader influence. Re-reading what I’ve written, perhaps edited from a transcript of a talk or a presentation, allows someone as extroverted as myself to really hone my thinking.

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“Business is more exciting than any game.”
Kitty O’Neill Collins

I believe that too many technically oriented entrepreneurs neglect the business model and relationship aspects a making a start-up successful. In particular software engineers become accustomed to the total control of their environment, an expectation that does not hold for activities that involve negotiation and persuasion such as sales, marketing, and business development. Activities that are vital to business success.

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“You learn something every day, unless you’re careful.”
Tom Van Vleck

Vleck has a great website, I thought this gem was pithy restatement of Fred Brooks’ observation that “Good judgment comes from experience…experience comes from bad judgment.”

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“When will you know you have enough, and what will you do then?”
Barbara DeAngelis

I am suspicious of entrepreneurs who are only motivated by money. I am not against wealth, but the Irish proverb “there are no pockets in shrouds” is a gentle reminder of the need to base your life on higher purposes than accumulation and consumption.

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“Getting an idea should be like sitting down on a pin. It should make you jump up and do something.”
E. L. Simpson

Imagination is necessary but not sufficient for successful entrepreneurship.

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“All we have is our time. How we spend our time is our priorities, our strategy. Your calendar knows what you really care about.”
Tom Peters

Especially for bootstrappers, we’ve come to appreciate that how you spend your time is much more important that how you spend your funds.

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“More important than talent, strength, or knowledge is the ability to laugh at yourself and enjoy the pursuit of your dreams.”
Amy Grant

I think I get better at tasks where I enjoy the deliberate practice that improves my skill and I am able to maintain a sense of humor about my shortcomings. This is not always that case at three in the morning when I wonder why I left the security of a big company, but I think that security is an illusion and no matter what course of action you embark on you can have second thoughts. I have been at this latest venture for five years and continue to make new mistakes, so I am not in a rut.

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“The difference between one man and another is not mere ability, it is energy.”
Thomas Arnold

Especially the energy to continue to experiment until you persevere.

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